Entering in through the great double doors, guests find themselves blasted with the warmth of my grandma’s affectionate greetings and a roaring fire in the great room off the entry. The foyer is two stories high with a palatial, curved staircase rising to the next floor. From the high ornamental ceiling, a sprig of mistletoe dangles on a long cord which rests just over the heads of unsuspecting guests as they first step into the home. As a child, I learned that if I made a giant leap into the room, I could avoid the mistletoe and all the goading and laughter of my cousins and everyone else who kept an eye on the proceedings.
The mistletoe is an excellent way for my grandma to exercise her perceived match-making abilities. As soon as we were old enough to figure out what was going on, it’s been good fun to sit with my cousins and sister in the shadowy corners of the great room and try to figure out which two individuals Grandma is going to try and force an intimate introduction on. She typically finds an excuse to keep one unattached victim, or guest rather, busy at the doorway--typically taking others’ coats--and then nabs their intended match as they walk in. The same scenario always follows: a quick introduction between the two, an announcement that they have been caught under the mistletoe, an awkward kiss and cheers and good-natured laughing from the crowd. Then she releases the two with instructions to go get eggnog and better acquainted.
I do have to admit that my grandma may have a certain level of finesse with the whole match-making thing. I’ve been going to the soiree for nearly 30 years now and I know of at least three long-time couples (and many more short-term couples) who claim to have been introduced under Grandma’s mistletoe. Grandma says she and the mistletoe know how to work their magic, but I’ve told her that if you have enough people looking for love over the length of time that she’s been holding her soiree, that hormones are all the magic one needs. She just laughs and clucks her tongue at me and tells me I’ll have no power against her magic when she decides to use it on me.
And honestly, maybe I could use a bit of magic. Finding that perfect match is exhausting or rather, has been (past tense) exhausting. I decided that while I’m open to a romantic relationship if it happens to mosey along and knock directly on my door, I am done trying to seek one out. Several years of actively seeking a man has gotten me nowhere. The root of my exhaustion can be found in worthless internet dating sites, set-ups from well-meaning but clueless friends, and trying to put on my sparkly best self at get-togethers. Yes, I have met men to date. But, there weren’t too many times that the chemistry seemed right for both of us to put in the effort of more than a few dates together. Of course, there were a few that had longer staying power.
I regret all the hours I spent on Alex—hours I will never get back. Hours which, while they taught me an important lesson about trust, in retrospect, would have been better spent vegging in front of the TV, bathing my cat, or having root canals. You get the picture. Everything was going along beautifully, or so I and all my friends and family thought—until I caught Alex stealing money from my parents’ house and I discovered that most of what I thought I knew about him turned out to be a lie. I think our relationship was something akin to the Hindenburg; it looks like it’s going to be a picturesque journey and smooth landing, until everything blows up in an intense fireball.
On the other hand, my relationship with Tyler just slowly shriveled like a birthday balloon forgotten and found months after the party, deflated and laddered with puckers. We were never meant to be, but we respected each other too much as friends to admit to ourselves we just weren’t made for each other. Tyler and I spent (I’m ashamed to say) years together. And while I don’t count the time as wasted because we still actually like each other, our relationship, to put it kindly, lacked any kind of oomph. To put it not so kindly, we were pathetic.
But, I don’t think of myself as pathetic—just certain aspects of my love life. And so that’s why, as I’m approaching a new year and my 30th birthday, I’ve put seeking out a relationship on the back burner. The reality is I’m really happy with my life. I have family near and far that I actually like to be around. Well, not all of them, but enough of them. And I have friends that I consider family. I travel. I have time for cooking classes, and book club, and tae kwon do. I like my job too.
A lot of people would consider teaching high school to be the height of torture. While individual days may be draining, overall I find that interacting with my kids keeps me on my toes and can occasionally be exhilarating. Some days I’m watching the clock just like the kids, but other days fly by and I can’t wait to come back tomorrow and keep the discussion going. Watching kids really wrap their minds around a concept is cool. I love literature and I know I’m not going to help every kid on the spectrum make connections with life and big ideas, but I know that at least some of my kids really get it. And that’s exciting.
Right now my life is full. And so a partner in life would be nice, but only if the positives of being with someone outweighed all the stress that relationships can cause.
Check back tomorrow to see who Grandma catches under the mistletoe!